The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant on Thursday for Sudanese Defense Minister Abdul Raheem Mohammed Hussein as part of investigations into atrocities in Darfur.
Hussein is the latest of several senior officials in Sudan to be indicted by the court at The Hague. Among others, it is seeking the arrest of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of orchestrating genocide. All, however, remain at large.
The court said in a statement that there were sufficient grounds to hold Hussein responsible for 20 counts of crimes against humanity, including persecution and rape, and 21 counts of war crimes, including murder and attacks on civilians, according to Reuters.
The United Nations has said as many as 300,000 people died in the Darfur conflict. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.
Hussein, 60, is the sixth person sought by the ICC or before the court for crimes committed in the war-torn African region.
The court’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said when he asked in December for the warrant that it would cover crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur from August 2003 to March 2004, according to AFP.
Hussein, who was interior minister from 2001 to 2005 and also President Bashir’s special representative for Darfur from 2003 to 2004, is wanted for allegedly coordinating attacks against civilians in villages in west Darfur.
“The evidence allowed the office of the prosecutor to conclude that Mr Hussein is one of those who bears the greatest criminal responsibility,” Moreno-Ocampo’s office said in December.
The request follows warrants issued in February 2007 for Hussein’s deputy and Darfur security chief Ahmad Harun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb, both wanted on 22 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes for directing attacks against Darfur’s civilians.
Villages were surrounded, bombed by the Sudanese air force, and then attacked by a combined force of Sudanese troops and Janjaweed militia.
“The evidence shows that this was a state policy supervised by Mr Hussein to ensure the coordination of attacks against civilians,” the prosecutor said in December.